Whether it is the discovery of the Higgs boson or the invention of the World Wide Web, CERN has left no stone unturned in its attempt to push the boundaries of human knowledge. To foster this spirit of scientific curiosity, CERN actively organises outreach and educational activities such as exhibitions, Open Days, Researchers’ Nights and S’Cool LAB workshops, to name but a few. Science Gateway is where many such existing opportunities will come together, along with a few new surprises.
“Science Gateway will take visitors on a unique and authentic journey into the Lab’s research and technology, drawing on CERN objects, CERN people and the proximity to CERN’s accelerators, detectors and facilities,” said Ana Godinho, head of Education, Communications and Outreach at CERN.
Nestling in the midst of a newly grown forest, the facility will strive to give visitors a whole experience beyond guided tours.
“If you compare it to today’s offer, Science Gateway will provide a richer experience to visitors, who may not experience a guided tour,” said François Briard, head of the Visitors and Local Engagement section. He added, “It will be accessible to the public easily, without having to register as a visitor.”
The project is making headway with its construction phase starting later this year and with its content development. The building will house exhibitions, education labs, an auditorium and public areas to cultivate ideas among scientists, artists and visitors. In addition to a variety of CERN’s internal events, Science Gateway’s auditorium will give a platform to public events such as conferences, workshops, science shows and artistic performances.
The Discover CERN, Our Universe and Quantum World exhibitions will recreate the CERN environments, share engaging stories and bring people close to CERN – sometimes quite literally. A working proton accelerator will be placed on the exhibition floor, becoming one of the major highlights at Science Gateway.
But what excites Emma Sanders, head of Exhibitions, the most is Science Gateway’s added potential to reach a new spectrum of the public, who may not already be science-inspired. In this way, the project hopes to inspire a diverse generation of future scientists.
Education labs at CERN are also contributing to the project by adding a twist to its hands-on activities. For instance, a DIY ping pong accelerator will use electrically charged ping pong balls in electric fields to help demonstrate the principles of linear particle accelerators at CERN. The synergy of ideas between physicists, artists and communication experts from all around the world has been crucial in bringing out the best of Science Gateway’s educational and outreach content. Close to 100 physicists and engineers have contributed ideas and advice through brainstorming sessions, workshops and discussions. The teams continue to be open to ideas for exciting activities for the project from all members of the CERN community.
“We want to enable interactions between learners of all ages and CERN’s scientific community, which is not just limited to particle physicists,” says Julia Woithe, Education Labs coordinator. “In particular, we want students to get to know authentic scientists also as ordinary people, and maybe as role models beyond Curie and Einstein, to convince them that science is for everyone.”